100 Things that Made My Year in 2023

Crop of woman showing at center of golden sparkle description numbers of 2024 New Year. Female in black dress celebrating and pointing by finger on numbers.

I was listening to an NPR interview this morning with Dr. Aditi Nerurkar who wrote a book about “5 resets” to tame toxic stress. 2023 was a year where I felt burned out A LOT. And because I have big plans for 2024, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to uplevel my business without upleveling my stress. So, my ears perked up.

One of the 5 resets is to start a gratitude journal. I’ve done various versions of this in the past (I enjoyed the gratitude jar that I did for a couple of years). My current practice is to write down the things that delight me throughout the year as they happen. 

Each year, I aim to come up with a list of 100 things (h/t to Austin Kleon), and for most of this year, I wrote down two items each week, so it became effectively a regular gratitude practice.

Behold: the full list in all its glory.

  1. The Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary, NC. I’ve always wanted to go and we finally made it this year. I haven’t been in a crowd that size in a very long time. It was a beautiful evening and all of the lights were so festive.
  2. Listening to my husband laughing in his sleep.
  3. Watching the Detroit Lions defeat the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau in the last game of the regular season.
  4. A hot rooibos cinnamon latte and conversation with a friend on a cold, rainy Wednesday afternoon.
  5. 2 coffee chats with fabulous women who boost my spirits and leave me popping with new ideas.
  6. Sleepily lifting my head up from the pillow and hearing “your hair looks amazing!”
  7. Bowling and Indian food on Valentine’s Day with my love. We played 2 games and each won one, which is probably the best outcome.
  8. The flowering trees starting to bloom in February.
  9. Amelia and Bennett on Season 11 of Married at First Sight.
  10. Eating Mofongo and Trifongo in Puerto Rico.
  11. The white sand beaches of Sun Bay on Vieques, Puerto Rico.
  12. Seeing the bioluminescence during an evening kayaking tour in Puerto Rico.
  13. Escaping to the sun during the toughest part of the winter.
  14. One 20-minute conversation with Jill Delston that solved a problem I was planning to work on for 6 months.
  15. Strategic planning with Heidi.
  16. A lovely walk on the greenway in Apex starting from Kelly Road Park.
  17. Watching the whirlybirds falling in the Spring. Reminds me of tossing the whirlybirds up in the air in my Grandma’s yard as a kid.
  18. This article about hanging out.
  19. Thinking about my journal as a magical space to hang out with myself.
  20. Stay on the bus – helpful advice from photographer, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, via James Clear.
  21. Watching Beef on Netflix.
  22. Healing sound baths at the Yoga Shala with Daniel Chambo.
  23. Roaming Poets at Hillsborough’s Last Friday ArtWalk. Kudos to Bianca Edmondson, Johnny Lee Chapman, III, and Jen Daniels.
  24. Austin Kleon talking about his process for creating blackout poems.
  25. This New Yorker interview with Bill Hader.
  26. This New Yorker article by Prince Harry’s ghostwriter.
  27. Seeing the Ruth E. Carter costume exhibit at the NC State art museum. 
  28. Ashe Reshteh soup at Flame Kabob.
  29. Writing retreat at Carolina Beach with Jill.
  30. Hanging out at the Got to Be NC Festival at the NC State Fairgrounds with Mary, Bryan, and Robbie.
  31. Walking in the rain on my birthday, getting a pedicure with Lyndsay, and eating the cute little cake Jarome bought for me.
  32. A morning walk with perfect weather and the Incandescent Tarot podcast to keep me company.
  33. So many blooms on my gardenia bush. I can’t remember seeing so many blooms on it ever before. Perhaps it’s the unusually cool Spring we’ve been having.
  34. The new season of Black Mirror. The first episode called “Joan is Awful” is really fun and thought-provoking.
  35. The fresh smell after a morning rain in June.
  36. Listening to live music on Saturdays in Saxapahaw.
  37. Niha’s podcast launch celebration at Tobacco Road.
  38. Watching the fireworks after a Friday night Durham Bulls game.
  39. Seeing Six the Musical at DPAC.
  40. Spending 4th of July in Southern Village with Antonia, Cornelia, and many more friends.
  41. Watching the fireworks on the 4th.
  42. Working at Lanza’s Cafe during a power outage.
  43. Going to Pittsburgh to meet Ravit Dotan and Emily Winerock IRL. 
  44. Reading through my entire book manuscript during the Pittsburgh writing retreat and feeling pleasantly, surprisingly happy with the draft.
  45. Swing dancing in Pittsburgh.
  46. Seeing Take6 at the NC art museum amphitheater.
  47. Paddleboarding on Jordan Lake, while listening to podcasts.
  48. Trip to Mackinac Island with the family. It was the first time I’ve been there since I was about 8 or 9. We biked around the island, hiked up to the fort, and ate great food.
  49. The Hollyhocks on Mackinac Island.
  50. Quiet, solo walk to Arch Rock on Mackinac Island before the other tourists showed up.
  51. Hanging out with Odin on the playground.
  52. Seeing the Barbie movie with Laura and Ryan.
  53. My two come-from-behind Farkel wins on the boat.
  54. Sailing under the Mackinac Bridge.
  55. Finishing four books while on vacation.
  56. Hearing the hubby say that I look “hotter than a serving of french fries.” Lol. 
  57. Witnessing a bunch of kids lose their minds over a little bubble machine on the preschool playground.
  58. Delighted laughter in the shala.
  59. Paperhand Puppet Intervention’s 2023 show “Where Our Spirits Reside.”
  60. Bhagavad Gita study and brunch potluck at Lyndsay’s house.
  61. Feeling the cool breeze on my face early in the morning.
  62. Listening to live Blues music at the Blue Note in Durham with Antonia, John, Denise, and Jack.
  63. Eating hushpuppies and smoked, pulled chicken.
  64. Guy whizzing by me on a recumbent bike blasting SmashMouth.
  65. Seeing Wicked for the first time at DPAC.
  66. Seeing Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit at Band Together at the RedHad Amphitheater with Christina.
  67. Seeing Black Violin at DPAC with Barbara, Adrian, and Gabriel.
  68. This episode of the Heavyweight podcast. 
  69. Making velvet pumpkins with the neighbors.
  70. Two gorgeous 80-degree days on the last weekend of October. I went to the beach both days for the last time this year.
  71. Watching Renfield outside at the firepit. 
  72. Quiet, solitary walks on crisp fall mornings.
  73. Going to the Orange County Open Studio Tour with Ann.
  74. Nate Bargatze on Saturday Night Live.
  75. Old Dads.
  76. Sound ceremony with Garth Robertson at the Yoga Shala.
  77. Cranberry ginger ale in a can!
  78. Leaves falling in the sunlight.
  79. Going to the Durham Art Walk Holiday Market and having pizza at Toro with Antonia and Cornelia.
  80. This GQ interview with Andre 3,000.
  81. The Detroit Lions having the best start to their season (8-2) since 1962.
  82. 3rd annual Friendsgiving at Lyndsay’s. Great food, better community.
  83. Austin Kleon’s thoughts on the Meaning of Discipline.
  84. Jes leading us in a moment of mindfulness at the start of our team meetings.
  85. Holding my first unassisted forearm balance. Many more to come.
  86. This article by N. Chloé Nwangwu that made me think harder about what term best describes marginalized folks and reminded me of the importance of using precise and productive language.  
  87. Warm December days and walks on a Sunday afternoon with Ghost of a Podcast.
  88. Brand new holly bush with a bunch of red berries on top.
  89. Lovely long walk in the woods on a warm December day.
  90. Holy River concert at the Yoga Shala and hanging out with little Sunny Lu.
  91. Jon Batiste’s documentary American Symphony on Netflix. 
  92. Goal-setting and sushi (and wine) with Heidi Giusto. What a productive day followed by a fun celebration!
  93. Frozen Cool Whip on top of piping hot pumpkin pie.
  94. This article about how to think about books, both the ones you read and the ones you don’t read.
  95. Lunch with Lyndsay.
  96. My new iMac.
  97. Listening to Better Living Through Birding on my road trip to Michigan.
  98. Massage and 2 nights in Dublin, OH as a gift to myself and break from my road trip to Michigan.
  99. Seeing the lights and hanging with the family at Gilmore Car Museum.
  100. Crisp, thick frost dusting everything on the morning I started the long drive back to North Carolina. There was no snow this year, so seeing the frost as the sun came up was the only wintery scene I really experienced on the trip.

 Happy New Year! 

I can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store for all of us.

Photo credit: serhii_bobyk on FreePik